Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs bill repealing 1931 abortion ban


(LANSING, Mich.) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill Wednesday repealing the state’s nearly century-old abortion ban.

Last month, the state’s House and Senate passed HB 4006, a single-sentence bill, which revokes the 1931 law that criminalized abortion.

Specifically, the bill repealed Section 750.14, which makes it a felony — punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 — to administer drugs that induce a miscarriage unless the mother’s life is in danger.

It also repealed Section 750.15, which makes it a misdemeanor to advertise, publish or sell “any pills, powder, drugs or combination of drugs” that can cause an abortion.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, questions remained about whether or not the 1931 law would be put back in place.

“Obstetricians, including myself, we were very concerned because we understand that there are a lot of appropriate medical indications for providing medical and surgical abortion for women across the state of Michigan,” Dr. Omari Young, an obstetrician-gynecologist and abortion provider in Michigan, told ABC News. “So, we were not only concerned for the autonomy of women, but also the quality and safety of care because we know that not having access to safe and legal abortion can lead to significant poor health outcomes for women across the state of Michigan.”

Young was part of a team of doctors that advocated for the repeal of the bill and for reproductive access to be protected in the state.

A Michigan state judge ruled in September that the ban is unconstitutional, barring any state prosecutors from enforcing it.

Two months later, in the November mid-term elections, Michiganders voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would add protections for reproductive rights.

The amendment defines reproductive freedom as “the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management and infertility care.”

Young and several other physicians involved in repealing Michigan’s abortion ban were on hand to watch Whitmer sign the bill.

“It’s a surreal moment but, ultimately, it’s like icing on the cake for all the hard work that Gov. Whitmer, all the policymakers, the advocates, the grassroot workers, and most importantly, the women and patients in the state of Michigan, all that hard work is culminating into this great event, we formally signed a bill to repeal the 1931 ban,” Young said.

Whitmer has openly expressed her support for abortion access in and out of Michigan and signed an executive order in July refusing to extradite women who come to Michigan from other states seeking abortion and refusing to extradite providers for offering the procedure.

“In November, Michiganders sent a clear message: we deserve to make our own decisions about own bodies,” Whitmer said in a statement provided to ABC News. “Today, we are coming together to repeal our extreme 1931 law banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing nurses and doctors for doing their jobs.”

The statement continued, “Standing up for people’s fundamental freedoms is the right thing to do and it’s also just good economics. By getting this done, we will help attract talent and business investment too.”

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